Fossil Friday – fern

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Over the last year or so, I’ve posted many bones from large herbivorous dinosaurs that lived in New Mexico around 79 million years ago, such as duck-billed hadrosaurs, horned ceratopsids, and the armored Invictarx.

Alongside the bones of these beasts in the Menefee Formation we often find fossil plants. Many of these occurrences are petrified logs and stumps, which we find eroding out onto the surface.

However, sometimes when we dig into the layers of mudstone to excavate dinosaur bones, we also encounter beautiful fossil leaves. The image today is a very nice leaf from a Late Cretaceous fern, probably belonging to the living fern genus Anemia. Fossils like this give us some idea of what the plant-eating dinosaurs might have been eating, and show that back then New Mexico was a much wetter habitat than today. It was a muddy floodplain lush with plants and teeming with dinosaurs.

Post by Curator Dr. Andrew McDonald

 

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